Our First Cheetahs for Months – and an Exciting Leopard Hunt …

Brendon’s News from Elephant Plains on the Sabi Sand Photo safari:

Our morning game drive started as always in the cool, early dawn. We started by following leopard tracks but were interrupted by a call that cheetah could be seen nearby.

We were so lucky! Not one, but three cheetahs! A mother with her two subadult cubs were soaking up the morning sun. The mother was relaxing on top of a termite mound with her two offspring, with wonderful visibility from all angles. The early morning golden light was just perfect.

And these were the first cheetah that we or the guides have seen in the Elephant Plains reserve for months. So we felt extra lucky with such brilliant visibility, and three cheetahs together! Who could want more? It was so special and we spent ages with the trio.

When we left them we found Wild Dog tracks and followed these. We could see that we were getting closer and then yes! There they were! They had clearly made a kill during the early hours and had eaten well. Their tummies were bulging and they were disinclined to move about quickly or to go far. This suited us as we could get plenty of excellent photographs as they strolled along at a leisurely pace.

Then the pack went down into a gully and as we detoured to get ahead of them we heard a scream. They had made a kill while out of sight. We pieced together the info as we caught up with the dogs again. A young duiker had probably been sleeping in some long grass when the dogs came upon it. There was no chase, and the end was very swift. We watched as the dogs disposed of the remains in seconds. A small duiker doesn’t go far as a meal for many, but the yips, snarls and grabs at any portion they could reach created a scene of chaos and plenty of noise.

On the way back to the Lodge we saw elephants and rhinos again.

This afternoon the first animals we saw when we set out were three Dagga Boys – buffalo bulls. They were lying in a dry river bed close to a waterhole.

Next we saw another rhino as he patrolled his territory and stopped now and then to mark in a midden, kicking up plenty of dust around each midden as he did so. The backlighting through the dust looked really good.

Later we found a young female leopard – and she was really busy! She was hunting and stalked selected prey whenever she had a chance. When she spotted a warthog she went into full hunting and stalking mode. She crept closer and closer and at the last minute she sprang … and the chase was on. And there – she had him! Warthog squeals pierced the air! But did she catch him? Ahh – maybe the warthog was just too big for her and she let it go … or was it because the bush was so thick and he got away? We lost sight of both animals in the bush for seconds and when we saw the leopard moments later there was no sign of the warthog. It was so exciting!

We remained with the young leopard until it was time to return to the Lodge. She hunted a a little more, and then hyenas arrived and disturbed her! She growled at them threateningly, and we were ready for quite a standoff. But the hyenas slunk away as they could see that there was no kill to be stolen here.

So after another amazing, memorable day in the bush, we are back at the Lodge, chatting about our experiences, and not yet wondering what tomorrow holds in store for us …